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Unrecognizable Accent



“No.  Too young to notice the signs.”

“Is it because he learned English and French at the same time?”

“Can’t be—”

“—no you’re right, the accents don’t match.”

“But it has to do with that accent.”

“He reads just fine.”

“It’s only when he speaks…”

“Which of the two was his first language?”


“Of course spoken… what else is there?”

“Well… technically he could sign before he could speak anything.”


“Sign language…”

“Oh! Right!  Kids can do that young, can’t they? Like in the movie…”

“Um, yeah…”

“Right.  Well, I don’t think that makes any difference.”

“Ok… so… what is it?”

“I don’t know.  I don’t think I can help you ma’am.”

“Oh.  Alright.  Um, thank you I guess.”





“Right—sorry, I knew that.  What’s his background?”

“Learned sign language, then French and English at the same time.”

“Sign language?”

“Yes.  Takes it from his grandparents.”

“Ah, nice.  Your parents?”

“No, my husband’s parents.”

“Nice, nice… well, I don’t think I can help you.  That’s not my area of expertise.”

“It’s no one’s area of expertise…”

“Good luck ma’am.”

Manon stepped out of the office and sighed.  She grabbed her hat and rubbed the tip between her fingers as she made her way over to the car.  She  pulled out a clunky phone from her purse and dialled.  “Hey?  Yeah.  No, no luck again.  No.  Maybe we should just give up.  No.  Fine.  Alright, I’ll set up an appointment with another one next week.”


“Can’t be dyslexia, he’s too young.”

“I know.”

“I think the problem lies with the accent.”

“Can’t be… they don’t match with French or English.”

“Does he have any other influences, a babysitter which speaks another language perhaps?  Hispanic? Something else?”

“His grand-parents are deaf.”

“Is he around them often?”

“All the time.”

“That might be it then, but I can’t know for sure—  I’ll do my research.”


“Call in a translator, look up sign language books, find out how the syntax works.”

“Oh, ok.”

“I’ll call you next week to book another appointment then.”

“Yes, please.”

“Alright, have a good day ma’am.”



“Mrs. Lefebvre, I’m glad to tell you that your son doesn’t have a speech defect.”

“He doesn’t?”

“No.  In fact, all he has is a slight accent.”

“Accent?  But he doesn’t use any articles at all when he speaks!”

“Are there articles when your step-parents speak sign language, ma’am?”


“And that’s why Sacha doesn’t use them either. All he has is an accent.”

“Oh… so his accent isn’t French?”

“No.  I’ve never seen it before, but it seems as if he’s adapted the syntax of sign language.”


“That’s exactly it.”


“It should become less obvious with time.”

“Will it go away?”

“Not likely, but it should be barely noticeable by the time he hits high school.”

“Thank you so much doctor.”

“No problem.  If there is anything else, don’t hesitate to give me a call.”

“Of course.”

“Good day.”

Manon stepped out of the office and sighed.  She looked at herself in the window of the car and adjusted her hat slightly.  Centering the big bow, she pulled out a clunky phone from her purse and dialled.  “Hey?  Yeah.  Miracle.  They say he has as sign language accent.  Yeah, I know.  Incredible, huh?  No.  Yeah.  Didn’t know it could exist either.  I’ll see you at home honey.”

Manon leaned over and grabbed the little boy out of his father’s arms.  He giggled and snuggled into her.  “We’re going to see a really special doctor today,”

“Who Mommy?”

“A doctor that’s going to help you talk.”

“I no problem talk mommy.”  She laughed and grabbed playfully at his nose.

“That’s what you think kiddo.  Tell you what, if you’re nice, we can stop at the corner store after and you can choose a toy.”

“Toy!”  She smiled brightly.

“Yes Sacha, a toy.”

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